Healthwatch Leeds asked people “what it is like to have a mental health crisis in Leeds”.
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Almost 700 people were surveyed about their experience of mental health crisis and awareness of services and support, from A&E to support helplines.
The project was carried out between January and March 2019.
Here are some of Healthwatch's findings:
Negative experience at hospital
58 per cent of the comments left about A&E were negative, most of which mentioned long waiting times as an issue.
Many people also said that the busy and clinical environment in A&E was very distressing. Many others didn’t feel as though A&E was equipped to deal with mental health issues and were more concerned with physical health.
-> How are cafes in Leeds helping people who are having a mental health crisis?Crisis team take too long to call back
57 per cent of comments about the Crisis Service (Single Point of Access) were negative, with most of those about the long waiting times for the service to call back after the initial phone call, with some waiting several hours for a call back.
There were also comments about communication with staff, with one commenting that the person they spoke to was ‘not warm or empathetic’.
One person said: "My friend, who I support, rang the Crisis team; was promised a call back however this never happened. We got a text message 9 hours after our initial call, which by this point we were at A&E as my friend had overdosed.”
There were positive comments about somebody from the service being able to come out and see them, staff being supportive, and the right referrals being made.
Almost half of people experiencing or supporting someone in crisis for the first time do not know where to go for support
47 per cent of people did not know where to go to get help when this was the first experience of crisis.
But overall, 67 per cent of people did know where to get help in a crisis.
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Many comments made about staff across all services were negative. This was particularly an issue at Acute Liaison Psychiatry (ALPs) and Crisis Service, however most services had at least one negative comment about staff.
Comments were about staff being unhelpful and sometimes rude and judgemental.
Most of the positive comments talked about how staff were friendly and approachable, as well as being understanding and empathetic about their circumstances.
Quicker access to support when in mental health crisis needed
For those services that were contacted over the phone, many people said it took several attempts to speak to someone, particularly the Crisis Service.
It sometimes took hours to get a call back, with a few people not able to get through at all, or never getting a call back.
Those who contacted A&E also commented on the long waiting times and those who visited the GP talked about waiting times between this visit and visiting the service they had been referred to.
-> Leeds Rhinos legend Keith Senior speaks out about mental health struggle after injury forced him out of the gamePositive experiences with the Third Sector
Comments about The Market Place, Dial House, Dial House at Touchstone and the Well Bean Crisis Cafe were more positive than negative.
One person said of the cafe: “If it wasn’t for this place, I would be 6 foot under by now. I am treated like a person not a number. Not looked down on. Staff treat me with dignity”